NFL Nation: cowboys-rams rapid reactions

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

A month ago, the Cowboys were talking about wanting to fast-forward to the playoffs. But after being dominated in a 34-14 loss to the Rams, this team will be doing well to even qualify. Right now, that seems like a long shot.

The Cowboys thought they could surround 40-year-old quarterback Brad Johnson with enough talent to win a game while Tony Romo recovered from a broken right pinkie. But Johnson never had a chance. He finished 17 of 34 for 234 yards and three interceptions. The Rams took Cowboys running back Marion Barber out of the game by taking a 24-7 halftime lead, and they didn't put up a fight in the second half.

It's not surprising that new wide receiver Roy Williams wasn't a factor, but for the fourth consecutive game, Terrell Owens was pretty much non-existent.

Dallas took itself out of scoring opportunities with dumb penalties, and the offensive line did little to help an overmatched Johnson. Oshiomogho Atogwe, one of the heroes in last week's win over the Redskins, had two interceptions for the Rams.

Jerry Jones said Sunday's game was, in many ways, more important than upcoming games against Tampa Bay and the New York Giants. But the team played with no sense of urgency. Head coach Wade Phillips kept a disgusted look on his face for most of the game -- and for good reason.

He's already on the hot seat in Dallas. Now, there will be talk of an in-season firing. (Hey, it worked for the Rams). But who do you replace him with? Jason Garrett, a man who can't devise a scheme for getting T.O. off the line of scrimmage?

The Cowboys spent all last week trying to convince us the sky wasn't falling. Well, it's officially falling. Romo will try to return against Tampa Bay, but it's not like he'll be at full strength.

Jerry Jones has tried to remain optimistic while his team continues to implode. Let's see how he handles Sunday's loss. If someone doesn't show a little anger after this one, you might as well as pack it in until next season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams are a new team with new life under new coach Jim Haslett.

The transformation has been more dramatic than anyone could have anticipated. The Rams are suddenly a spirited and physical team with a chance to win every game.

Quarterback Marc Bulger again showed more toughness and leadership than in the past by taking hits and bouncing back to make plays. Steven Jackson ran relentlessly and found a lot more room against the Cowboys than he did during a victory over the Redskins in Week 6. His 25-carry, 160-yard performance allowed the Rams to control the clock, a huge help for the Rams' defense.

Injuries to defensive lineman Adam Carriker and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa could prove costly depending on the severity. But the Rams are showing how attitude can compensate for personnel issues. Haslett deserves much of the credit. He's looking like the right man at the right time for a franchise seeking to establish itself again.

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